String of Quitting Records Show Workers Hold the Power

Number of the Day: The most relevant or interesting figure in personal finance


That’s how many months this year the number of people quitting their job has broken a new record high, government data showed Friday.

A record 4.43 million workers walked away from their jobs in September, up from 4.27 million in August and more than any other month since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the statistic in 2000, the bureau said Friday. That’s 3% of the total employed workforce, and more than the previous high water marks set in August, April and March of this year.

“The abundance of job openings is allowing workers to change jobs for greener pastures like never before,” said Sarah House, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, in a commentary.

Companies are desperate to hire workers as the country recovers from the shock of the pandemic, fueling consumer demand for a return to normal life and all the economic activity that comes with that. The number of jobs left open in September fell slightly but was still near the record high set earlier this year.

But while the labor shortage has given workers a clear advantage in the job market— fueling rapidly rising wages, signing bonuses, and other perks—their growing paychecks aren’t as big as they look. Soaring inflation is eating away buying power.

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  1. Federal Reserve Economic Data. “Quits: Total Nonfarm.”

  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary - 2021 M09 Results.”

  3. Wells Fargo. “Job Openings Slip in September, But It's Still a Worker's World.”

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